The Path to a Conservative Majority
Paul Maginnis is a Conservative Party member and author of The Return of Meritocracy: Conservative Ideas for Unlocking Social Mobility.
The Conservative Party needs to have one very clear message in this general election: Get Brexit Done. We need to repeatedly emphasise that in 2017, 85% of MPs were elected on manifestos to leave the European Union. This means that 85% of MPs were elected to respect the biggest democratic mandate in British political history. We need to ruthlessly target the 150 Labour seats in Leave constituencies - mainly in the Midlands and the North. The incumbent MPs in these constituencies, have not only gone back on their manifesto promises but they are contemptuous of their electorates. The historical party of the working class now shows clear disdain for the people they were set up to represent.
This General Election was set to be one of the most unpredictable, captivating elections we have witnessed in decades. Four weeks ago, there appeared to be a four way split between the main parties, with clear threats to the Conservative Party from a resurgent Liberal Democrats, a committed Brexit Party vote and a powerful SNP in Scotland. To counter these threats, the Conservative Party needed to neutralise the Brexit Party and steamroll the Labour Party in the Midlands and the North. This is why delivering Brexit and developing our blue collar agenda is so crucial to our strategy. Looking at the current polls, that’s exactly what’s happened.
Labour are increasingly strong in the large metropolitan areas like London, Manchester and Liverpool. But the marginal seats are generally outside the big cities and in the small Leave voting towns. These are the seats that Labour need to hold and make inroads on if they are to win a majority. Out of the 64 most marginal seats that the Labour Party need to win, 45 of them are in Leave voting constituencies. A promise of a referendum in the forthcoming general election will alienate them further.
As somebody who works in areas such as Mansfield, Chesterfield and Worksop, I’ve lost count of how frequently I meet former Labour voters who are now appalled by the party they used to support. And it isn’t just Brexit which has led to their disaffection. It is Labour’s clear lack of patriotism - Corbyn and McDonnell’s history of sympathy with the IRA is one of dozens of examples. It is the Labour elite’s view on their heartlands wishing to have immigration controls - remember Gordon Brown’s view on Gillian Duffy. And it is their insistence on authoritarian political correctness - remember the Labour Youth Conference of 2018 where white working class young people were excluded! The electorate aren’t stupid and they are fully aware that the party of Clement Attlee is long gone.
The only thing stopping the Conservatives from winning a majority at the next general election is the potentially disastrous impact of the Brexit Party. As we have seen at the Peterborough by-election, if the Brexit Party stand against the Conservatives, Labour will come through the middle with less than a third of the vote. We should be winning seats like Bolsover, Dudley and Ashfield but, if the Brexit Party stand against us and voters decide to cast their vote for them, there is a high possibility that Brexit will not happen at all. This is a message we are hammering home in Labour heartlands on our Blue Collar Canvass days.
The voters in the Midlands and the North aren’t interested in the day-to-day shenanigans of parliament. They want their democratic vote to be respected, to see more police on the beat and more investment in education and health. This is why the spending review’s priorities were so widely welcomed and it will hopefully prove to be a precursor to a blue collar budget in the spring.
Brexit has turned the political paradigm on its head. It is clear that we are the workers’ party as Labour only seek to represent people who they see as ‘victims’. We are the party talking about the people’s priorities, not expropriating private property. We are the party who will deliver on democracy, not thwart the will of the people. And our manifesto today will put all of that beyond doubt.